WINNING THE WAR WITHIN
Do you sometimes feel locked in a struggle with yourself? I know I do. Why is it that we know what we want to do, but it’s such a struggle to actually get it done? Even Saint Paul writes, in a letter to the Romans, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” Even the most successful people wind up struggling with procrastination, overeating, overspending, drinking too much, saying things you don’t mean, or getting involved with the wrong people. As I work with my clients, the issue of internal struggle comes up over and over again. What’s going on? It’s inner warfarea fight with yourself.
Inner warfare produces a constant noise in one's mind, as the voices of opposing thoughts become locked in never-ending argument, which makes clear thinking almost impossible. Whenever the inner war rages, you will use poor judgment in the important decisions of your life, because a substantial part of your thinking ability is hampered. Just imagine trying to think in a room where two people are arguing about everything, most of the time! When you can’t think clearly, you are not able to understand the intuitive information you are receiving that could tell you who is trustworthy and who is unreliable; you are not able to evaluate all the options available to you and make clear decisions; and you cannot sort out the difference between realistic options and options that are too pessimistic or too optimistic to serve as the basis of a good decision. In addition, the exhaustion resulting from constant turmoil causes you to "forget" or feel unable to think clearly about your circumstances and your actions, which leads you to be dependent on others to do your thinking for you.
As long as it goes on this way, the inner war is unwinnable, since all sides feel equally right, and equally powerful. Even if one side could win, you'd be operating at half power, unable to think clearly, or unable to feel feelingswhich is what happens to many people. Just as in wars in the external world, both sides inevitably pay a heavy price.
When you learn how to manage your thinking until you can get all sides to negotiate and work together, you create a problem-solving team that is both intuitive and rational, creative and practical. Only when your internal war is settled, and the sides form a working partnership, can you use the full power of your thinking ability.
To achieve this inner teamwork, take small steps in the beginning. When feelings of embarrassment, unworthiness, shame, or fear arise, just slow down and give yourself a chance to relax. Don't push yourself, or criticize yourself, but reassure and encourage yourself past the problem.
Discussing issues with yourself, asking yourself questions, and comforting yourself are hard concepts to understand, because part of you is focused on others, not on yourself. Even once you understand how to confront your inner feelings, you may resist at first, because you feel confused, ashamed or embarrassed. Old, ingrained subconscious beliefs that your feelings are frightening, and that you're unworthy of attention are fighting with your new, rational adult knowledge that you are important to you.
Once you negotiate an internal truce, you can become a new kind of person, within whom both the intuitive, feeling part and the rational, acting part work together for the common good, without a "good guy" or "bad guy", or winner and loser, but seeking to solve problems so that both sides are satisfied. Negotiation, communication. and partnership become an integral part of your relationship with yourself, producing a sense of wholeness and power that give you the confidence to take risks and the motivation to get things done. It truly takes the self-image of a warrior, at times, to continue the hero's journey toward fully living life.
I wish you peace: within yourself, within your family, within the world.
(Adapted from It Ends with You) © 2005 Tina B. Tessina
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